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May 07, 2013 - 06:50 PM
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2013 Darlington: Parker Kligerman NASCAR Nationwide Race Preview
Posted by: newsla on May 07, 2013 - 06:42 PM
2013 Darlington: Parker Kligerman NASCAR Nationwide Race Preview

In his first full-time campaign in the NASCAR Nationwide Series, Parker Kligerman has quietly put together a solid start to the 2013 season. Kligerman has improved nine spots in the championship standings over the last five races and currently resides in the fourth position entering Friday's VFW Sport Clips Help a Hero 200 at Darlington (S.C.) Raceway. With eight of 33 races completed, the 22-year-old finds himself in the early championship hunt amongst three former Sprint Cup Series regulars - Regan Smith (1st), Sam Hornish Jr. (2nd) and Elliott Sadler (5th) - and a perennial contender in his fifth full-time season in NASCAR's second division, Justin Allgaier (3rd).


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Kligerman and his single-car No. 77 Kyle Busch Motorsports (KBM) operation have stuck to their plan of limiting mistakes and producing consistent finishes in the first quarter of the season, as they battle against mostly multi-car teams, many of which also compete in the Sprint Cup Series or have Cup affiliations. Under the guidance of crew chief Eric Phillips, who is also in his first full-time season in the Nationwide Series, the Connecticut native has posted two top-five and four top-10 finishes. After hiccups in weeks two and three of the season, the team has strung together a five-race stretch where they have finished 12th or better each time out. Included in that stretch, was a fourth-place finish at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, Calif. with the same Camry that they will unload this weekend, KBM-11.

The talented youngster has one prior start at Darlington, posting a 14th-place finish in the 2011 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race at the egg-shaped oval. Phillips has a little more experience, calling the shots for three Truck Series events at the venue dubbed "Too Tough to Tame." With Kasey Kahne behind the wheel of KBM's No. 18 Tundra for the 2011 event, the veteran signal caller proved that the challenging track can be handled, leading 95 of 147 laps en route to victory.

With Phillips and veteran spotter Earl Barban in his ear on Friday night, Kligerman will be constantly reminded to abide by the age-old adage "race the track and not the cars around you." With just seven markers standing between him and Allgaier for third-place in Nationwide Series standings, another solid finish will help in his efforts to continue 'moving on up' the rankings and prove that he is a viable contender for the 2013 championship.

Parker Kligerman, Driver of the No. 77 NNS Toyota Camry:

You made one Truck Series start at Darlington. Did you get your Darlington stripe?
"I actually did get my Darlington stripe, but it was only because another driver ran into me going into Turn 1. Other than that, we were able to avoid the wall and had a top-10 run going with a truck that we probably shouldn't have been racing there. It was a normal experience for your first time at Darlington, in terms of being a bit of a rougher weekend. We were running in the top 10 most of the night, but ended up 14th because we got put in the wall. I really like the place and I'm excited to being go back there. The track has a ton of history and is so iconic in NASCAR in terms of places you get excited to go to."

You will be unloading the same Camry that you finished fourth with at California. Does that give you a confidence boost even though Darlington is a much different track?
"I think so, a lot of our later-generation Camrys here at Kyle Busch Motorsports are very similar. There are little subtle differences between them, but any time that you have a good experience with one car -- in terms of running well and getting a good finish -- it gives you more confidence that it has speed. You know it has the right downforce and such, so, you can go out and focus on making it drive right and getting around the race track, instead of evaluating where your car is at.

Eric Phillips, Crew Chief of the No. 77 NNS Toyota Camry:

What are the pros and cons of practicing, qualifying and racing all in the same day?
"Doing the Truck Series for so many years, we've done a lot of one-day shows and I seem to like them. If you unload well and things go well, it's a good thing. Your guys are at the race track less time -- you do your thing and get out. On the other hand, if you unload and you are way off, it makes for a long day."

Darlington is a tough track, what can you do as a crew chief to help your driver?
"The biggest thing is that you have to give the driver something that is comfortable. Everybody preaches about racing the race track, so giving your driver a car that has a good grip level and still has some speed in it is the best thing you can do for him. If you have a car that is comfortable to drive, you'll be fast over the long runs."

Parker Kligerman's No. 77 Toyota Camry:

KBM-11: KBM-11 will make its second start of the 2013 season in Friday's VFW Sport Clips Help a Hero 200. In its first start of 2013, Kligerman posted a series-best fourth-place finish with the Camry in March at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, Calif. The Toyota raced four times in 2012, capturing the pole in its debut at Atlanta Motor Speedway in Hampton, Ga. last September and posting two top-five and three top-10 finishes.

Notes of Interest:

Parker Kligerman @ Darlington:
• Started 18th and advanced as high as fifth before finishing 14th in the 2011 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS) event
Parker Kligerman 2013 Highlights:
• Has posted two top-five and four top-10 finishes across seven starts, including a series-best fourth-place finish at Auto Club Speedway (3/23/13)
• Has improved nine positions over the last five events and currently ranks fourth in the NASCAR Nationwide Series (NNS) championship point standings - 47 markers behind points leader Regan Smith - with eight of 33 races completed
• Qualified third, led 10 laps and registered a fifth-place finish in the season-opening DRIVE4COPD 300 at Daytona International Speedway (2/23/13)
Parker Kligerman 2012 Highlights:
• Earned his first career NCWTS victory at Talladega Superspeedway (10/6/12)
• Captured two pole awards (9/15/12 @ Iowa Speedway and 11/16/12 @ Homestead-Miami Speedway)
• Collected eight top-five and 15 top-10 finishes en route to a fifth-place finish in the final NCWTS point standings
• Posted two top-10 finishes in three NNS starts, including a then career-best seventh-place finish at Chicagoland Speedway
Parker Kligerman Career Highlights:

2011 - Registered four top-five and eight top-10 finishes en route to an 11th-place finish in the final NCWTS point standings as a rookie
2010 - Recorded two top-10 finishes in 12 NNS starts
2009 - At the age of 19, captured the pole in his first-ever NNS start at Kansas Speedway, becoming the 10th driver in series history to accomplish the feat
2009 - Earned Rookie of the Year award in the ARCA Racing Series after winning a series-high nine races and finishing second in the final point standings

Kyle Busch Motorsports' NNS Program:
• Has collected two top-five and four top-10 finishes across eight starts this season
• After eight races ranks seventh in the 2013 Nationwide Series owner's point standings
• Posted a season-best fourth-place finish in the Royal Purple 300 at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, Calif. (3/23/13)
• Earned a season-best third-place starting position for the DRIVE4COPD 300 at Daytona International Speedway (2/23/13)
• Registered 1 win (Kurt Busch at Richmond International Raceway 4/27/12), 4 runner-up finishes, 15 top-five and 22 top-10 finishes en route to an eighth-place finish in the owner's point standings last season in its inaugural NNS campaign
• Captured three poles, all with Kyle Busch behind the wheel (9/1/12 at Atlanta Motor Speedway in Hampton, Ga., 11/3/12 at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth and 11/17/12 at Homestead-Miami (Fla.) Speedway

Last Year @ Darlington:
Kurt Busch recovered from a blown right front tire in the late stages of the race to post a respectable eighth-place finish in last year's VFW Sports Clips Help a Hero 200

Last NNS Event:
Parker Kligerman led three times for four laps and was running second with one lap remaining before finishing sixth in the rain-shortened Aaron's 312 at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway last Saturday

Kyle Busch Motorsports:
• Overall in three seasons of NASCAR competition KBM has registered 19 victories (18 Truck Series, 1 NNS) and 11 poles (8 Truck Series, 3 NNS)
• In 2010, KBM's No. 18 Tundra team became first group since the Truck Series originated in 1995 to win the Owner's Championship in its inaugural season

The Phillips File:
Eric Phillips is in his first season as a crew chief in the NASCAR Nationwide Series and fourth atop the pit box for KBM. In three seasons as crew chief of KBM's flagship No. 18 Tundra, the Illinois native led the team to 17 victories and the 2010 Truck Series Owner's Championship. Phillips' 27 career Truck Series wins rank second on the all-time list, trailing only KBM General Manager Rick Ren (28).

Phillips' Truck Series drivers combined for one win, one top-five and one top-10 finish across three starts at Darlington, resulting in an average finish of 13.7. With a Phillips prepared Toyota Tundra, Kasey Kahne led 95 of the 147 laps en route to victory in the 2011 Truck Series event.

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